Plastic chicken coops are really rising in popularity. They are easy to clean, with just a wipe of a damp cloth, and won’t face the same problems that a wooden coop would such as rot or needing protection from the rain.
Plastic coops are also more lightweight, able to be moved around to suit, such as into more sheltered areas at night or during the winter.
If you do want a wooden chicken coop for a more classic, traditional look, try to pick one which is on stilts and can, therefore, be protected from the damp ground and potential damp issues. It will need treating regularly, using a chicken-safe coating.
Number Of Chickens
If you have just a few chickens, any coop will do. But with four or more, you will need to look into getting a larger coop.
The general guideline is that you should give your chickens one-metre square per hen. Obviously, if you have a larger breed, you should increase this. In the UK, free-range hens have at least 4 square metres per hen outdoors, and organic have at least 10 square metres per hen outdoors. This is important if you will be selling the eggs.
You may wish to choose a coop which has several different living sections so your chickens have some personal space. Remember that there are a few other things you will need to put in your coop too, which could mean you need to get a coop larger than first thought.
Many of the above coops include a chicken run, which can be as little as 2m or as large as 4 or 5m. These are good for around 2 or 3 chickens, and you should ideally also give them the chance to explore the garden free-roaming.
If you have any more chickens than this, it is still good to be able to keep them secure, but you should ideally let them out for most of their time and allow them to have at least 1m2 each. Larger runs, or even walk-in runs, are available and would make a good add-on.
Other Things To Look Out For
Having a tray which will collect all of the waste within the chicken house is a good idea. This way, it will slide out and you can just empty the dirt away, and give it a wipe before inserting again.
You may want something which is portable, which gives you the option to move it to a new area in order for your chickens to have a fresh foraging area and allow your grass to recover, or if they need to be more sheltered at night. These coops will often have wheels.
Perhaps the main thing for most chicken owners, however, is that their coop must be fox-proof. Both urban and country areas have foxes, and chickens are a prime target for them. The wire should be strong and impenetrable and designed so a digging animal cannot burrow underneath.